Country music icon Naomi Judd died by suicide the day before the Country Music Hall of Fame inducted her and Wynonna Judd as The Judds. And three months after her mother’s death, Ashley Judd opened up to a grief expert about the experience.
Ashley shared her “most ardent wish” for Naomi’s “transition,” plus the change she hopes to see when people talk about suicide. Read on to learn what she said about understanding her mother’s parental “shortcomings” and her hope for her after death.
Ashley Judd knows Naomi Judd was ‘absolutely doing the best she could’
Naomi Judd once revealed she was abused at the hands of a family member when she was a sick child. In her memoir, River of Time, she said the experience impacted her for the rest of her life by causing her to have moments of panic and terror.
As a high school senior, she became pregnant with her oldest daughter Wynonna. But her boyfriend left for the military when he learned of the pregnancy. And this led to life-changing decisions at a young age.
So, Naomi married the man who would become Ashley’s father, and he believed he’d impregnated her for some time. Wynonna later revealed that she didn’t know he wasn’t her biological father until she was 30.
“I look back on my childhood and I realize I grew up with a mom who had an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness,” Ashley said on an episode of the Healing with David Kessler podcast (per Billboard). “And there are different behavioral expressions, interactions, flights of fancy, choices that she made that I understand were an expression of the disease…”
She explained to Kessler that her mother was in deep pain during her life. She added she can “today understand that she was absolutely doing the best she could, and if she could have done it differently, she would have.”
Ashley Judd ardently wishes her mother’s ‘transition’ from life to death freed her from ‘guilt or shame’
Naomi died at 76 in April of 2022. And Ashley candidly revealed in an interview on Good Morning America that the cause of death was suicide. Furthermore, she was visiting her mother at the time and discovered her.
While Ashley confessed she was left with her own grief and trauma from the experience, she has a simple hope for Naomi. “My most ardent wish for my mother is that when she transitioned, she was hopefully able to let go of any guilt or shame that she carried for any shortcomings she may have had in her parenting of my sister and me,” she shared.
“Because certainly on my end, all was forgiven long ago,” she concluded. “All was forgiven long ago.”
Why Ashley Judd wishes language about suicide would change after Naomi Judd’s death
Ashley also explained to Kessler how she hopes to see a change in the language used to talk about suicide deaths. “‘Committed’ [suicide] comes from this hierarchy of punitive transgressions, and committed to an institution or an asylum,” she offered.
She noted that people who die by suicide are experiencing a battle many others can’t see. “… I believe that the person who suffers from mental illness, they are trying to have some relief or escape from something that perhaps we cannot fathom or conjure or imagine for ourselves,” she shared. “And how fortunate are we.”